This article originally appeared on Inc.com
For small business owners, life is busy as hell. From strategy to finances, marketing to customer service, legal concerns to human resources, you wear a lot of hats and juggle diverse responsibilities.
Cultivating systematic habits will allow you to put many of these responsibilities on autopilot and give more of your day to the creative and intellectual work necessary for your business to flourish.
Let’s look at six simple steps for de-cluttering your mind and attacking your day with confidence.
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1. Get a Bird’s-Eye View
Open up your calendar Sunday evening and get a bird’s-eye view of all your responsibilities for the next five days. Do it while your mind is still relaxed from the weekend.
Conducting a general overview will help you take control of the workweek before it even starts. You’ll wake up Monday morning feeling centered instead of rushed.
2. Start the Night Before
I’ve never been much of a morning person, and I don’t have much of a morning routine. When my day goes well, it’s because of what I accomplished the previous night.
Before going to bed, I meticulously comb through my to-do list for the next day. The list includes short-term, intermediate and long-term items, as well as urgent stuff that needs to be taken care of right away.
I decide what I need to take care of personally and what should be delegated. The next morning, I crank through the short-term and urgent stuff as quickly as I can.
3. Be Methodical
The beauty of working out a strict calendar is that it’s an extremely effective way of managing your day. Good habits form as you discipline yourself to do what you planned the night before.
The closer you follow your calendar, the rarer it will be that a crisis comes along and knocks you off course. Following a prioritized to-do list will help you prioritize the unpredictable stuff as it comes.
If you do have crises coming up all the time that derail your entire day, it’s probably because:
- You don’t trust your people to be able to handle things.
- You’re undisciplined.
- A little bit of both.
Stick to your game plan, trust your team and don’t feel that it’s your personal responsibility to extinguish every fire that occurs.
4. Take Time for Emotional Connections
As busy as you are, never forget that forging and sustaining strong relationships with your team members is a crucial element for both happiness and success. It’s okay to joke and have fun–when opportunities for emotional connections arise, take them.
You can’t exactly plan to have a spontaneous emotional connection with your business partner; the trick is to get into the right mindset, and recognize opportunities as they come.
One thing that’s worked really well for my team is sitting down together for lunch on a daily basis. Having a delicious meal together is a great way to both bond and energize ourselves for the work ahead.
5. Do Something Hard on Purpose
If you’ve got 20 things to do, it’s easy to prioritize the ones you know you can mindlessly crank through and still feel like you’ve had a full, productive day. Get the mindless stuff out of the way first, but try everyday to include something that requires a little emotional and creative lifting.
There’s a correlation between how hard something is–the emotional, creative and intellectual toll that it takes–and the fact that you can’t just thoughtlessly crank through it.
Make time for those tasks that require pondering, patience and practice.
6. At Some Point, Turn Off Your Phone
When I’m in town, I try to be home every day by six. Then it’s time to hang out with my daughters, find out about their day, help them with homework, and get the younger ones to bed.
I turn off my phone at this point because I want the people I love most to have my complete attention. Spending quality time with the people you love will clear your mind of the junk and clutter of the day, and is the best preparation for tomorrow’s responsibilities.
Following these simple steps has given me the flexibility and freedom to live life on my own terms for nearly 20 years. Shape your own schedule around your strengths and needs, be sure to leave room for love and laughter, and get to work building the business of your dreams.